Six-thousand dollars will be up for grabs this month when teams from around the province compete at the fifth annual Cariboo Canucks First Nations Hockey Tournament.
Tournament organizer Cecil Grinder said he is expecting up to 700 players to participate in nine separate divisions at the event, which will be held from Friday, Dec. 16 to Sunday, Dec. 18.
The $6,000 prize money will be split between the first-, second- and third-place teams in the competitive division. First will win $3,000, second will claim $2,000 and third will be awarded $1,000.
The other eight divisions will consist of three youth divisions — ages 4,6, ages 7-9, ages 10-12 and ages 13-15 — a recreational division, a masters division, an elders division for players 55 and older and a women’s division.
“Like last year I opened up the elders division and women’s division to non natives,” Grinder said. “I was given a pat on the back from our non-native people last year saying it was great to see non natives playing.”
Every division’s winners, meanwhile, will receive prizes.
At last year’s tournament, the Alkali Braves marched away with the championship in the competitive division after they narrowly edged the host Cariboo Canucks, 2-1, in the final.
Grinder noted teams will be travelling from around the province to compete at the tournament, which has increasingly gained popularity over the years.
“So far in the competitive division we’ve got teams from Chase — they’re bringing a masters, a rec and a youth team, too — a team from Invermere and a team from Quesnel,” he said. “Vernon and Merritt are still kind of looking to see (if they can get enough players) to see if they want to join the competitive division. We’ve got teams from pretty well all over.”
For the youth division, the finals will be held on Saturday, Dec. 17. All of the other finals will be played on Sunday, Dec. 18.
Admission to the tournament is $10 per day, however, during Friday night’s youth division games there will be no charge.
“Come on out and support it,” Grinder said. If anyone would like to enter a team into any of the divisions they can contact Grinder at either 250-394-4240 or at 250-392-8778.